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‘Party over personality’

New Delhi, Aug. 28: After a slew of meetings between senior state leaders and national party president Amit Shah, the BJP has decided not to project a chief ministerial face before Assembly elections in Jharkhand that is scheduled later this year.

To whom the top job would go to would depend on poll outcome, a party insider said.

He added that while a non-tribal leader like Raghubar Das could be top choice in the case of clear majority, a tribal face might be used to draw post-poll regional alliances in case of a fractured mandate.

“After many deliberations, we have decided to go to polls with collective leadership. Our poll plank is development and stability, both of which have eluded Jharkhand since its inception,” Das, a senior BJP leader recently elevated to the post of national vice-president, said.

He claimed the BJP was headed for a “massive victory” in Jharkhand.

“We will tell people that just as they have voted Narendra Modi to power at the Centre with a thumping majority, they should also likewise bring the party to power in the state for wholesome development. We have all seen what non-BJP governments have done in the state so far,” Das said, pressing for a comfortable majority in the Assembly elections and reflecting the party’s newfound confidence after winning 12 of 14 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

The 82-member Jharkhand Assembly has been battling fractured mandates and coalition compulsions where chief ministers change according to the whims of their allies.

This year, riding on the Narendra Modi or NaMo wave, the BJP hopes this would change for good.

However, there are some naysayers within the party who believe that going solo might boomerang in state elections as Assembly polls were traditionally driven by micro issues.

“In fact, choosing to cut ties with regional parties, especially trusted partners like Sudesh Mahto of the Ajsu, could cost us heavily. We have just seen how social engineering done by Lalu Yadav’s RJD and Nitish Kumar’s JDU worked in their favour in recently held assembly bypolls in neighbouring Bihar. So we should be more cautious,” said a BJP leader in Delhi with an active role in state politics.

“Let us not be overconfident. A number of factors like strong leadership, caste equations, campaigning impact and so on come into play in state polls. People vote according to their perception and not because of their past or national preferences,” agreed another leader.

But one trend has emerged strongly in the BJP camp.

Former three-time chief minister Arjun Munda and former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, despite trying their luck in leading the campaign in the state, seem clearly sidelined.


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